E.U. Chief Promises Strategic Dialogue with Farmers

Despite the pledge, analysts point out that Ursula von der Leyen expressed no clear intention in her speech to boost the E.U.’s initiatives on sustainability and climate neutrality.
Ursula von der Leyen (CDU), President of the European Commission (AP)
By Costas Vasilopoulos
Sep. 25, 2023 13:57 UTC

The pres­i­dent of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has announced that the European Union will embark on a dia­logue about the future of farm­ing in the bloc.

We want to launch a strate­gic dia­logue on the future of agri­cul­ture in the E.U.,” von der Leyen said In her annual State of the Union speech deliv­ered before a ple­nary ses­sion of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, last week.

I am and remain con­vinced that agri­cul­ture and the pro­tec­tion of our nat­ural world can go hand in hand,” she added. We need both.”

See Also:Farms Facing Natural Constraints Play Key Role in European Agriculture

Earlier in her speech, the E.U. chief expressed her grat­i­tude to farm­ers for pro­vid­ing us with food day after day.”

She also said that pro­duc­ing food is not always an easy task,” adding that Europe’s farm­ers are fac­ing new chal­lenges, includ­ing droughts, fires and flood­ing, and new oblig­a­tions stem­ming from the European reg­u­la­tions on sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture.

We must work together with the men and women in farm­ing to tackle these new chal­lenges,” von der Leyen said. That is the only way to secure the sup­ply of food for the future.”

Members of the European Parliament applauded von der Leyen’s move to make an exten­sive ref­er­ence to farm­ers after the E.U.’s pri­mary sec­tor was over­looked in last year’s annual speech by the com­mis­sion pres­i­dent.

“[There is] finally a recog­ni­tion for farmer’s hard work pro­vid­ing healthy and suf­fi­cient food every day,” said social­ist mem­ber of the par­lia­ment Paolo De Castro.

Copa-Cogeca, the umbrella group of E.U. farm­ing orga­ni­za­tions and agri­cul­tural coop­er­a­tives, wel­comed von der Leyen’s pledge to ini­ti­ate a dia­logue on agri­cul­ture. However, they said more details must be pro­vided.

We await fur­ther details on the frame­work of this dia­logue, which should form part of the prepara­tory work for the future Common Agricultural Policy,” the group said.

Critics argued that the E.U. chief opted for a vague ref­er­ence to a strate­gic dia­logue on farm­ing to assuage con­cerns from con­ser­v­a­tive polit­i­cal par­ties about the E.U.’s cli­mate and sus­tain­abil­ity poli­cies, effec­tively delay­ing the imple­men­ta­tion of the bloc’s green agenda.

We can no longer accept that the future of the E.U. Green Deal and the much-needed tran­si­tion towards sus­tain­able food sys­tems, which will ensure Europe’s long-term food secu­rity, depend on polit­i­cal par­ties’ agenda and pri­vate vested inter­ests,” said Madeleine Coste, direc­tor of advo­cacy at Slow Food, an orga­ni­za­tion focused on pre­serv­ing local food cul­tures and tra­di­tions.

Led by the cen­ter-right European People’s Party, the biggest law­maker group of the European Parliament and von der Leyen’s polit­i­cal fam­ily, European con­ser­v­a­tives have opposed the bloc’s green poli­cies, rea­son­ing that addi­tional green leg­is­la­tion would fur­ther bur­den Europe’s farm­ers and com­pa­nies and threaten food secu­rity.

Rumors that the E.U. chief might not come up with pro­pos­als to mold the remain­ing bits of the land­mark Farm to Fork strat­egy, namely the sus­tain­able foods sys­tem law and an over­haul of ani­mal wel­fare, were also con­firmed after von der Leyen’s speech.

In over one hour of speech, the two files or even the words Farm to Fork’ were not men­tioned once,” Euractiv, an online news media spe­cial­ized in E.U. poli­cies, reported. Our take is that, at least in its approach, the over-ambi­tious Farm to Fork’ is basi­cally over.”

According to the let­ter of intent of von der Leyen’s annual address to the European Parliament, the actions listed in her speech will be detailed and com­ple­mented in the commission’s 2024 work pro­gram.


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